A team around Jian SUN has used high-energy plasma to prepare a copper catalyst sputted on silica which reacts during hydrogenation as Cu(zero-valence or noble metal state). The catalyst reduced dimethyloxalate with 87% selectivity to the primary hydrogenation product, methyl glycolate, not to the complete hydrogenation products ethylene glycol and ethanol. Density functional theory calculations revealed that Cuois the active site of the preliminary hydrogenation step, selectively converting DMO to MG via •H addition.

CAS news release, December 22, 2018